Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Battery recycling

Battery recycling colourful batteriesBattery Recycling

There are three categories of waste batteries:

  • automotive batteries
  • industrial batteries
  • portable batteries.

For further information, see our batteries guidance.

If you want to apply to offer a battery compliance scheme that collects, treats and recycles waste portable batteries, you must register with your environmental regulator between 15 April and 15 May in the year before you operate the scheme.

Contact your environmental regulator

What you must do

Apply for a permit or licence

If you treat or recycle waste batteries you must have a waste management licence.

You must comply with the conditions in your licence or you can be fined or sent to prison.

If you treat waste batteries and your waste management licence was issued before the dates listed in the table below, you must comply with the following conditions:

  • remove all fluids and acids from the batteries
  • store waste batteries, and the materials that result from treatment, in secure, covered and impermeable areas.

These conditions have been added to your permit by law.

Key dates

Northern Ireland Scotland
20 May 2009 6 July 2009

If your waste management licence was issued after these dates, you must comply with the conditions in your permit.

Apply to be an approved battery treatment operator

As well as having a waste management licence, you must apply to your environmental regulator to be an approved battery treatment operator (ABTO) if you want to:

  • carry out the initial treatment or recycling of automotive or industrial batteries
  • issue batteries evidence notes for the treatment and recycling of waste portable batteries

Apply to be an approved battery exporter

You must apply to your environmental regulator to be an approved battery exporter (ABE) if you want to:

  • export waste industrial or automotive batteries for treatment or recycling
  • issue batteries evidence notes for exporting waste portable batteries for treatment and recycling.

If you collect and transport batteries you must be a registered waste carrier or hold an exemption.

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

Hazardous/special waste

Most waste batteries are classified as hazardous/special waste. They contain potentially harmful chemicals and metals. You must follow regulations for dealing with hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

Batteries contain chemicals that are highly polluting, flammable and explosive.

Keep spill kits near to where you might need them with clear instructions for their use. Make sure your staff know where they are and how to use them.

They can contain:

  • absorbent materials, eg sand
  • containment equipment, eg booms
  • pumps and suction equipment
  • pipe blockers
  • drain mats.

Make an inventory of all the equipment and materials you have on site. These should be suitable for the type and quantity of fuel, oil and chemicals you store and use.

Storage, handling and transport

Store and transport batteries in cases that are secure, waterproof, flame resistant, acid and alkali leak proof, shockproof and clearly labelled. Ensure your collection vehicles have adequate facilities, including lockable stillages, to transport batteries safely.

Group batteries by their chemistry. For example, store lead-acid batteries together and do not mix them with non lead-acid batteries, as this could cause a chemical reaction. Consider using software navigation systems to help you track consignments more efficiently.

You must ensure batteries are not crushed, compacted, or suffer any breaks to their seals and casings. For example, if the casing of a lithium ion battery, such as those used in mobile phones, became cracked and exposed to water during transportation, the battery could become flammable, and could also cause pollution from chemicals leaking through the casing.


You must prevent short circuits. A crushed or cracked battery can short circuit internally and become flammable. Secure your batteries firmly during transportation to prevent movement and damage. Pack batteries individually to prevent them touching one another, or any other metal or liquid surface that could cause short circuiting.

If you handle vented batteries (batteries which vent gases to the atmosphere) you must keep them well ventilated at all times to prevent the build up of potentially explosive gases.

Do not dismantle batteries yourself. This is highly dangerous.

Health and Safety Executive: Using electric storage batteries safely (Adobe PDF - 164KB)

Waste storage and transport

Contact the battery manufacturer before you store, handle or transport the batteries. Ask for the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This will describe the chemicals in the battery.

Ban on battery disposal

You must not dispose of waste industrial or automotive batteries in a landfill or by incineration. This does not include residues that have been treated and recycled in accordance with the batteries regulations.

Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009

Waste Batteries (Scotland) Regulations 2009


Store all chemicals in an area where spills can be contained. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS), such as a bund. The SCS should be able to contain at least 110% of the volume of the largest tank or 25% of the total volume likely to be stored, whichever is greater.

Have a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills. Ensure your staff understand the procedure and know how to follow it.

Report pollution incidents to the incident hotline as soon as they happen on 0800 80 70 60.

PPG 21: Pollution incident response planning

Minimise storage times for batteries on your site. Plan ahead for busy periods and try to co-ordinate collections so that batches ready for transportation to reprocessors accumulate quickly.

Store batteries as far away as possible from any drains, watercourses, or surface waters.

Oil storage

Chemical storage

Water pollution

Read about More waste treatment processes on NetRegs

Environmental News Blog

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms